Wrap-up: Falcons 27, Broncos 21

September, 18, 2012
9/18/12
12:27
AM ET

A look at a sloppy 27-21 loss for the Denver Broncos on Monday night in Atlanta:

What it means: The Broncos showed they might be further along on defense than on offense in a loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Denver did overcome four early turnovers and made this a close game. But it showed it was too out of sync to win as Denver fell to 1-1.

Manning’s night: It was a weird second game as a Denver Bronco for Peyton Manning. He killed his team with three interceptions in the first quarter, but settled down and put the Broncos back into the game. In the end, it wasn’t a poor outing overall for Manning. But he had happy feet and looked uncomfortable and he was forcing the ball in the first quarter. After a near flawless game against Pittsburgh last week, Manning showed Monday night he will have his growing pains as he adjusts to a new team.

Gonzalez stays a Bronco killer: Former Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez had a big game for the Falcons, finishing with seven catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. In his first game against Denver as a Falcon, Gonzalez, once again, showed he is a pain.

McGahee shines: A lot of folks thought Denver running back Willis McGahee was a better fit for a Tim Tebow-run offense than a Manning-run offense. He looked like he fits just fine with Manning on Monday night. McGahee had 22 carries for 113 yards and two touchdowns.

Denver defense plays tough: The Broncos' defense was put in a lot of tough situations after Denver committed four turnovers in the first quarter. But the defense played stout and it improved throughout the game. The team should be encouraged by this effort.

Officiating was out of control: The locked out referees have to enjoy this performance by the replacement officials in this game. The replacements had a miserable night on a national stage. The first quarter lasted an hour and there were times the game was out of control. More performances like this, and the world will be screaming for the “real” referees to come back.

What’s next: The Broncos host Houston on Sunday in a key early-season AFC game.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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